Monday, January 23, 2006

Remembering corporatism

Have finished reading Peter Loveday's Promoting Industry (1982) which I picked up last year in a Library cleanout. One one hand it is a record of projects long forgotten and institutions long since privatized such as the Australian Industries Development Corporation (on which Peter Baldwin had some interesting reflections in 1990), although seeing a reference to John Howard as Treasurer makes you stop. However the central theme of the challenge to Westminster norms associated with industry assistance and the interpenetration of the 'state' and 'industry' remains. Some of Loveday's views could be phrased in Foucauldian terms. It anticipates the early 1980s preoccupation with 'corporatism'. It struck me that the attacks on Hawke's corporatism from the right in the mid 1980s (as with Katherine West who for a time had a high media profile on this but who has since disappeared completely, is she dead?) anticipate themes of the 1990s and beyond. Corporatism was presented as an elite device to control dissent and West highlighted the need for this consensus to be broken by campaigns on 'inflammatory and non-consensual' issues such as Asian migration, and this was combined with pseudo-leftish rhetoric about the exclusions of corporatism. There was also the theme in this literature that corporationism was a threat, possibly even a 'fascist' one to the perfections of responsible government. Today the conservative criticism of NGOs follows exactly the same line as the anti-corporatist literature, government-NGO cooperation is described as a threat to democracy and responsible government.


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